Facebook and Instagram to cut video quality in Europe to stop coronavirus self-isolating users overloading the web

FACEBOOK and Instagram are cutting the quality of video on their apps in Europe.

The move makes Facebook, which owns Instagram, the latest US tech titan to respond to an EU call to stave off internet gridlock as thousands work from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Video giants Netflix and YouTube took similar sweeping actions last week.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton has urged streaming platforms to free up bandwidth for healthcare and distance learning for thousands of children sent home by closing schools.

While European telecoms operators say their networks have been able to cope with the data traffic rise so far, there are fears of congestion as more and more people work at home.

“To help alleviate any potential network congestion, we will temporarily reduce bit rates for videos on Facebook and Instagram in Europe,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The move will last as long as there are concerns about internet gridlock, a person close to the company said.

Both Netflix and YouTube said they would cut their picture quality for 30 days.

Disney said it would lower its overall bandwidth utilisation by at least 25 per cent in all of the European countries launching its new streaming service Disney+ this week.

Streaming video can account for two-thirds of traffic on fixed and mobile networks.

Internet service providers in the UK have insisted they are "ready" to handle extra broadband demand from people at home during the pandemic.

Last week, Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Services Providers' Association (ISPA), which represents the industry, said: "ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks."

However, one analyst warned last week that it's possible surging demand for home broadband is already affecting people's web speeds.


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5"The more people that connect to a network at the same time will inevitably put a strain on it and thus reduce the speed," Paolo Pescatore, of PP Foresight, told The Sun.

"This is akin to a motorway; increasing the number of lanes means more cars. However, the more cars on the road will lead everyone to slow down."

"Telcos clearly need to brace themselves for an explosion of traffic over their networks," he added.

"More needs to be done to stabilise the network."

In other news, your internet may be getting slower as the coronavirus outbreak causes a huge surge in web traffic.

We reveal how to clean your iPhone without breaking it.

And take a look at the world's best iPhone photos taken using "night mode".

Are you happy with your internet speeds? Let us know in the comments!

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